Is Middle School Too Early to Begin College Visits?

Is Middle School Too Early to Begin College Visits?

I just loved Dave Marcus blog post in the April 17th Education section of The New York Times. He talks about his recent college visit experience at Paul Smiths College with his 9th grade son yes, I did say 9th grader.

His post touches on the idea of taking middle school kids and 9th graders to visit college campuses and the potential benefits of doing so (despite the skepticism of many education professionals and parents).

My personal experience and sentiments echo the philosophy of both Mr. Marcus and Dennis O’Hara, principal of Oyster Bay High, who is mentioned in this post. Mr. O’Hara shows eighth graders the amazing experiences that await curious, motivated teenagers

My son, a current 10th grader, began visiting colleges when his sister started the college search process almost four years ago. While it wasn’t by choice, he actually enjoyed those visits and still remembers much of what he saw. In fact, he was so taken by one of the schools, were making another visit on his behalf in two weeks.

College AheadLast fall, he accompanied a friend and his dad on a 4-college road trip to Southern California. The trip combined college tours with sightseeing, making a mini-vacation. The boys not only had fun, but they came back motivated and excited!

While Mr. Marcus says of his recent college visit with his son, he didn’t come back expressing a newfound desire to soak up everything in high school, I firmly believe that the experience will benefit him later on and its already got him thinking about what type of college campus will best meet his needs and interests [all that driving made him think the place might be too remote].

As for my son, he still complains about homework, but he’s begun thinking about what he might like to study in college and the campus visits have helped him understand that high school is a means to that end. Besides, he loves reading the college literature that comes in the mail!

While every student may not be ready, I agree with Mr. Marcus that for many, the practice of early campus visits is actually a rational approach to preparing some kids for college.

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you.

Janice Caine

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